Foreign Policy magazine´s cover shows a surprising headline this week.
It refers to 9/11 and it calls it “The Day Nothing Much Changed“. The article, written by William Dobson is at first extremely refreshing. In a world in which not a day goes by without us hearing how everything change on 9/11 we read Dobson demolishing myths one by one, argument after argument and proving that nothing much has really changed since 9/11. He argues that global commerce is way up, that global travel is way up, that working visas and student visas in the US are up, that USA did not become fortress America and that the world has gone on “business as usual” for the last 5 years. At the end of his article however he makes a statement that in my view pretty much changes the main point of the article. It goes like this
Consider that between Sept. 12, 2001, and Dec. 31, 2005, 18,944 people around the world died in acts of terrorism. Only eight of those deaths were on American soil.
Now to me here lies the key to this problem and it is because of this that I believe that a LOT has changed after 9/11. The fact that USA has been both better and luckier than say the UK or us in Spain to prevent further terrorist attacks after 9/11 does not mean that the world has not changed after 9/11. To me the biggest effect of 9/11 other than the tragic death of so many innocent people, has been to encourage masses of radical islamic youths to fight our civilization with pretty effective tactics. What the few terrorists of 9/11 proved is that Western Democracies are relatively easy to attack. Madrid and London followed with a new kind of terrorism, less linked to Al Qaida and more to the resentment of immigrant groups. By invading Afghanistan and Iraq America and Europe moved the war with islamists into their turf, many times aggravating the problem with poor management and tremendous civilian casualties thereby helping recruiters of terrorist organizations gain more adepts. The fact that we got hit in Europe and America did not yet get effectively attacked again does not mean that tomorrow a terrorism of the kind that is described by Graham Allison, nuclear terrorism, cannot be the Islamic radicals next big thing. What is America and Europe to do with this threat? Personally after hearing a lot of the work that was published at the Safe Democracy conference that my foundation and Club de Madrid hosted last year on Terrorism, I think that less military work, better police and judiciary work mixed with social policies that show the Muslim world that we care and are willing to cooperate, trade and befriend the 99% plus Muslims who are not terrorists in Europe, USA and the Muslim world is the way to go. Military intervention, be in Irak or recently Lebanon on behalf of Israel has fueled more terrorism that it has avoided. Whatever we may think about Hezbollah now I am sure that after the recent destruction of Lebanon it is easier for Hezbollah to recruit adepts than it was before the Israeli invasion. Money spent in cooperation as opossed to weapons and active collaboration with the vast majority of moderates muslims against the radicals muslims is the best way forward. Terrorism has never defeated democracies because in the end most people, no matter how extreme their views are, want a compromise, even with people whose views they hate. We have to rally the moderate against the radicals something that a Europe that is becoming more Muslim every day is particularily well prepared to do.
Posted on September 11, 2006